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Concert Review

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Korn Press Photo

Korn - "Sings About Frustration of a Generation"
3/3/00 Oakland

.........Musically, Korn has never sounded so tight and powerful. The head-banging rhythms of drummer David Silveria and bassist Fieldy never let up. Lead singer Jonathan Davis screamed, whispered, growled and babbled in tongues like something out of "The Exorcist." He wore a black priest's cassock for most of the show, changing into a black kilt for the encores. What sets Korn off from previous bands of its genre - such as Kiss, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Motley Crue and Marilyn Manson - is the shimmering, electronic buzz and spacey, other-worldly overlay from the dual, seven-string, open-tuned guitars of James "Munky" Shaffer and Brian "Head" Welch. Although the dark-edged intensity hasn't diminished, Korn's sound has evolved over its four albums.
.......The rage is more controlled now, the songs more focused. Davis still whispers and growls and screams, but there's more variety in his attack. There are some quieter moments now to contrast with the general explosiveness. Korn's sound has evolved over the years; the current disc, Issues, is more melodic and less brutal-sounding than the previous three. That increased musicality was evident at the show, in new songs such as "Falling Away From Me" and "It's Gonna Go Away," on which singer Jonathan Davis crooned vulnerably, alone. The stage held ornate scaffolds resembling the Eiffel Tower, giving the set a look that was simultaneously vintage and futuristic. Seats had been removed from the arena for a mosh pit, but a couple hundred of them were added to the actual stage. An elaborate, Gothic cathedral backdrop surrounded the band, adding to the music's creepiness. For the encore, an enormous inflatable rag doll, like the battered one on the "Issues" cover, filled the stage.
.........The set list was devised by fans, who voted for songs on the band's Web site. Wearing a priest's long black cassock, Mr. Davis moved onstage with careful deliberation - when he wasn't ranting and raving like a maniac. Few musicians - never mind that, few humans - are as complex or as able to articulate their vulnerabilities. He'd sing with delicacy, then scream until he was hoarse, echoed his combination of sensitivity and strength. The band has become increasingly sophisticated in the different ways to express the extremes of life: the loud vs. the soft, good vs. evil, masculine vs. feminine.
........While Mr. Davis flailed about onstage, the band members appeared almost implacable. But then they'd do a blistering song such as "Blow You Away" wherein the music became so impossibly heavy that they would all bend over at the waist, as if toiling under its weight. ...........Korn's artistic growth probably won't mean much to the hard-core moshers and slam dancers sure to pack near the front of the arena stage Saturday night. There were few surprises in the band's 90-minute, three-encore set. Jonathan Davis screamed his way through fan favorites from the band's four releases, with much of the vocals drowned out by the vicious guitar players . Korn pounded its way through angry, high-energy favorites, including "Blind," "Shoots and Ladders," "Good God," "Falling Away From Me," and its most well-known song, "Freak on a Leash."
....... Thousands of Korn fans chose the set list for the nine-week "Sick and Twisted" tour, logging onto the band's Web site early this year to pick their favorites from each album., like from thier "Dead" from "Issues," the band's latest release.
......... Korn serves as an outlet for the pent-up energy, frustration and aggression of many of its teenage male fans. When Korn is unleashed, testosterone rules. If everything includes sheer volume, theatrics and sophomoric rage, ruled. As far as originality and unpredictability, though, the foursome's fiefdom is questionable.

By Randy Cohen

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